Words, photos and podcast production by Jenni Mazaraki
Christina Lew has always wanted a turquoise front door. On the day I visit her at home in Melbourne’s north east, the optimistic smell of fresh paint can be detected before I’m even inside, suggesting that changes are underway for Christina.
Christina is a writer and public relations consultant who manages the Bold Thinking public lecture series at La Trobe University in Melbourne. She has also been blogging as Miss Rosanna for many years.
Christina has worked from her home office space as a public relations consultant for the past 7 years. As her role at La Trobe University gains momentum, Christina will soon be giving up her home office space to her eldest son and moving downstairs to share a study with her husband.
The door to the new study is already painted in Christina’s favourite shade of turquoise, and she is keen for the front door of the house to be painted in the same shade of blue very soon. The fresh paint smell is coming from the work that Christina’s husband, Adam is doing on the day that I visit. I find him painting door frames, sprucing up the already beautiful home the couple share with their two young sons.
A move from inner city Brunswick to Melbourne’s north east suburbs eight years ago prompted Christina to start her Miss Rosanna blog as way of connecting to the local arts and culture in the north east suburbs.
Initially starting a commerce degree after high school, Christina quickly realised her strengths, “At the end of the day, I’m inherently a more creative person.” She has had a lifelong love of English and writing.
“If you asked me what I wanted to be when I was in grade six, I would have told you it was a journalist.”
However, Christina chose a course of study in public relations over journalism at university. “I have a love of people and (I’m) interested in how people think, (I’m) very curious about the world and people’s engagement.”
Christina gave me a tour of her house. The living room is where Wednesday nights are a TV free night and a chance for the family to play games and chat. The kitchen is inviting and bright even on a dull day. Christina makes me a cup of tea which I inevitably forget to drink because we are talking so much.
Her house has a warmth to it. It’s the sort of space that you can see yourself lingering in to sit and pause. The colour scheme is warm reds and blues with neutral tones of white and beige. There is an appreciation for the traditional, with Persian carpets and an understanding of style as curved table edges echo the curved armrests on the lounge chairs and pendants. Christina admires art deco style, with many pieces reflecting the period.
And then there are books. The first thing you see when you enter Christina’s home is a low bookshelf filled with books. Above it hangs a Toulouse-Lautrec print. It tells visitors that this is a home where people live who appreciate art and literature.
On the day that I visit, it is overcast and the large elm tree in her front yard casts an even darker canopy of shade over Christina’s study. The effect is that her space feels intimate. The tools of her trade are on her desk, (computer, pens and notebooks) and an art deco lamp illuminates her work surface as if the objects are on a small stage.
In her study, objects are arranged neatly and deliberately, creating relationships with one another. The feathers collected from outside sit next to a turquoise bowl filled with sea shells. On a stone carved lotus bowl are Christina’s business cards, surrounded by red beads and a bell. In Christina’s home office sits a typewriter in pride of place. It’s the same style of typewriter that Ernest Hemingway used. The objects show what is important to Christina; connection to nature, nurturing of self and expression through writing.
“I’ve always been a writer,” said Christina.
Like many creative people, Christina is inspired by nature and this is reflected in the way she has collected small objects from the garden or from her travels. “My creativity is expressed through the things that I have on display,” said Christina. Objects symbolising flight and travel have been collected from second hand shops and antique dealers. There are other themes in Christina’s home. Hearts, lotus flowers, trees, birds, buddha’s heads and elephants are seen in images and objects in her study and around the house.
Christina’s tips for nurturing creativity are simple “You need to prioritise self care,” she said, “When you spread yourself too thin and you say yes to everything you end up pleasing no one and you also end up feeling like a martyr because you’ve overcommitted and there are only so many hours in the day.”
“I have learned to say no,”
said Christina, choosing to pace herself with the things she commits to. Christina prioritises her health with yoga, fitness training, meditation before she sleeps at night and making time for friends and family.
Whilst not a follower of Buddhism, Christina has been influenced by Buddhist philosophy as a framework for life. Mindfulness and meditation and a sense of gratefulness is important to help Christina achieve balance and perspective. “Happiness does come from within, it is a state of mind and it’s being conscious of the things that are going well in your life at any point in time.
Christina credits her friends as being her great supporters. She has also been inspired by women she has met and worked with including writer Margot Tasca, owner of Wendy’s Music, Wendy Brentnall-Wood, and Pat Mackle, the founder of Avant Card. She admires them for their courage to pursue their projects and their ability to be balanced in their approach to business by having a life outside of work.
A recent creative writing workshop with Busybird Publishing inspired Christina, “I think I’ve got a book in me, it’s just, finding the time or making the time as I was told and working out what I’d like it to be.”
I left Christina’s home feeling reinvigorated and went home to see what I could do to make my own home environment reflect my intentions and the things that I value in life.
“I feel a bit sad to be losing my space, but the nature of life is change,” said Christina. “As long as the rest of the house can reflect who I am, then I have to just find new homes for everything.” One day Christina will have her own writing space again. And very soon when visitors come to her house, they will be met with the freshly painted turquoise door that Christina has always wanted, welcoming them into a space where creativity is valued.
For more information, see Christina’s blog, Miss Rosanna or email firstname.lastname@example.org.